Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Thoughtful House Center: A Holistic Approach to Treating Autism

Many of us are aware of the diverse and often controversial treatments for autism. My work across ten different counties and more than fifty public school districts has brought me in contact with kids receiving all kinds of interventions, from chelation therapy to special diets and ABA behavior therapy to potty training. The research behind the efficacy of these treatments is incomplete, but new studies are continually being presented for review. My attention was directed toward the Thoughtful House after reading about Dr. Bryan Jepson's book, Changing the Course of Autism. Dr. Jepson joined the team of therapists and care providers at the Thoughtful House after his child developed autism as a toddler. Dr. Jepson was dissatisfied with the medical research and treatment options for autism and decided to look into it himself.

The Thoughtful House website is full of information about their philosophy and opinions regarding current treatment options and research regarding autism. Their point of view directly confronts the current controversy surrounding autism and childhood immunizations. My understanding is that they assert that some children's inability to process heavy metals and toxins properly can place them at greater risk for an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccination or a contracted virus that leads to onset of regressive autism. I think the most exciting part of their conclusion is that this type of autism may also be medically linked to gastrointestinal problems. Treating these GI issues seems to help the adverse symptoms many children with autism experience. There will also be further opportunity for research into the link between the immune system relating to mercury and the gastrointestinal problems.

In addition to the new medical paradigm for looking at autism, the specialists at the Thoughtful House seem to have put together an exciting holistic model for treatment. In my experience, when children I have worked with go away for some kind of specialized treatment, the treatment is focused on one type of intervention. They may be put on a special diet or behavior therapy, but the treatments have seldom made much of a long term impact once the child has returned to school. I like the idea that the treatment should be medically based as well as taking into account environmental influences. The Thoughtful House Center begins treatment with a full medical history and analysis and then develops a therapy program suitable for each child. They can adapt the dietary and behavioral needs of a child as the medical situation is treated and hopefully improves.

I am glad that the Thoughtful House is taking the lead on performing new research related to immunizations and autism. This is a hot button topic that is often discussed without a good grasp of the current research findings. Dr. Jepson and his colleagues have taken the time to discuss current research findings and what we can and cannot conclude about autism and any links to immunizations. If we can establish concrete treatments for autism based on a medical model, then therapists like myself will have a much easier time complementing the treatment and expecting better results.

For further reference, I recommend a visit to their website: Thoughtful House Center

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